Coach Class Syndrome

How frequent travel may increase your risk of developing DVT

Coach Class SyndromeAtlanta is home to one of the biggest international airports in the Southeastern United States, but don’t let the availability of frequent travel increase your risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This condition is marked by the development of blood clots in the deep veins in the legs, and every frequent flyer mile you rack up could be contributing to your risk for developing the common vein disease.

Coach class syndrome is a popular nickname for deep vein thrombosis. This nickname was granted to the disease thanks to the high rate at which frequent travelers develop DVT. This is because long flights are associated with extended periods of sitting with little movement. This is one of the leading risk factors for developing a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg. The longer you sit in one position, the greater your chance is for developing DVT.

That doesn’t mean that frequent flyers are the only ones at risk for this condition. Certain lifestyle factors will also increase your risk for DVT, like:

  • Having a job that requires sitting for long periods, like at a desk or driving
  • Being overweight
  • Extended hospitalization

Strategies to Prevent DVT

By incorporating more movement into your day you can cut your risk of DVT. While it might seem like exercise is not a good idea when you are sitting on an airplane, there are simple things you can do to enhance blood flow and reduce your risk for a blood clot.

Don’t let a few hours in coach class lead to coach class syndrome. Here are a few ideas for a more active flight:

  • Stand and stretch: When the pilot says it is okay to do so, stand in place and move about. If you are lucky enough to grab an aisle seat, consider taking a short walk to the bathroom as often as you can.
  • Do leg stretches: Even in the cramped space of an airplane it is possible to do some simple stretches. While seated, brings your knees to your chest and then lower your feet slowly back down to the floor. If you have the space, try extending your legs as far in front of you as possible.
  • Flex your muscles: You might not be able to move around but you can move your muscles. Put your feet on the ground and raise your heels so your weight is on your toes. This will flex your calf muscles.
  • Don’t cross your legs: Even if you don’t have the space to move about, you can reduce your risk of a blood clot by uncrossing your legs and reducing the amount of pressure you are putting on your veins.

Whether you are stuck at your desk or stuck in the air, do your best to keep circulation in your legs flowing by moving about as much as possible. If you notice any swelling or burning in your legs, contact your vein doctor right away.

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